Danville Express

Newsfront - May 4, 2007

County will fill gap after Alamo rec programmer leaves

Parks Committee considers additional duties for new rec employee

by Natalie O'Neill

As the spring heat draws more sports lovers and hobbyists outdoors, the face of recreation in Alamo is changing.

With current recreation programmer Valerie Matlock leaving this month, the county has been cross-training a staff member to temporarily take over the position.

"She helps out behind the scenes. We need a staff employee to retain that institutional knowledge," said county Associate Civil Engineer Warren Lai.

County staff member Victoria Skerritt, who has a background with the East Bay Center for Performing Arts, is working with Matlock to learn the ins and outs of Alamo recreation in order to help hire and train the next recreation programmer.

"She's fabulous and it's made my job a lot easier - I wish she was here all along," Matlock told the R-7A Parks and Recreation Committee at its last meeting.

The county will hire a temporary programmer for the summer and then a long-term programmer when it finds the right candidate.

Along with the transition, the part-time position could get an attractive new makeover, committee members say. Making the position full time and increasing the salary might help the community find someone who is in it for the long haul, said committee member Nancy Dommes.

"We should consider a different salary and think about adding benefits. We want someone who wants to stick around," Dommes said.

Matlock is currently on an hourly wage of $27 an hour and has worked an average of about 21 hours a week in the last nine months. She puts together concerts, programs, events, family nights and classes.

Committee member Marie-Jeanne Parsons, a retired banker in charge of the finances, said it's time the committee put more money into recreation. If you want to improve a program, you have to spend more money, she said.

"At the end of the day, we've spent very little money on the recreation part ... $27 an hour for someone to do that type of management is not very much," she said.

Parsons noted she hoped to have an expanded recreation program with more attention given to senior activities.

"Some seniors lack human contact," she said, explaining they need recreation for social purposes.

Committee Chairman Steve Mick, on the other hand, said it's more likely that the committee would split the job between two part time positions - one administrative to do paperwork and the other to do event planning. He said that for someone interested in recreation, the position is already desirable.

"I think it's attractive the way it is," he said.

Other members noted that before changing or expanding the position, they would have to review what Matlock's job tasks have been.

"We'll need to review expectations and find exact job tasks, responsibilities and functions," committee member Marianne Sasso said.

Essentially, a better recreation staff member - one with more experience and knowlege - means better recreation in Alamo, Parsons said.

"In the month of May these are some of the issues we are going to want to flush out," Lai said.

Hillary Heard, a project planner for the county, said the county already has potential candidates lined up to fill Mattock's position. She said they hope to have the temporary programmer on board in time for the summer.

"Were progressing slowly but surely," she said.

Contact Natalie O'Neill at noneill@danvilleweekly.com


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